Friday, 22 December 2017

Dear God- On Boundaries and Choosing Well For Yourself.


Dear God,

It's been a while since I wrote to you on this blog, but this year I  have been sending mental letters privately.  As you know, December has never been that kind of month for me. I was struggling internally for the last couple of days to find a mere ounce of excitement about this season, I even bought a Christmas tree and decorations. Still I found no cheerfulness to brighten my mood. And as if I needed further confirmation of my internal gloom, I was reminded of an old blog post triggered by a  Facebook reminder this last week. The post I made about the Bogeyman. Remember that one? Wow... it's such a sad sad post. I can't believe I shared it. But on some level I am glad I did because it's held me accountable for the last two years. I have stuck to the path that that choice led me on.

While planing out this letter,  I remembered a poem I studied for O-level English literature. It is called 'Mending wall' by Robert Frost. I laugh when I recall the lack of depth to our class discussion with our English teacher Mr Walker on this particular poem. I mean what did we really  know about life back them? Our lives were so sheltered. Every moment was planned out for us right until we reached University. At 14 years of age we simply didn't have enough life experience to bring credibility to our opinions, but Mr Walker calmly guided us along, helping us better understand the importance of the  poem, helping us better relate to Mr Frost's powerful musings.  I know Mr Walker would be entertained by the fact that I am actually referring to it in a blog post many years later, he knew even then that I didn't take naturally to interpreting poetry. Yet here we are years later, still somehow moved by this poem.


The first line of the poem rose up from my subconscious and dusted off it's cobwebs, 
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

My biggest lesson over the last couple of years has been creating boundaries in my relationships. I am an introvert but truthfully I don't like being guarded. I don't like having to constantly remind myself  that not ALL people can be trusted (growing pains of being an adult). The blog post was written during a serious moment of 'growth' and the shedding of some naivety. In short, a couple of years ago, a few individuals through their negative actions taught me quite a bit about myself and my interactions with others. You warned me many, many a time God. I didn't listen. I stubbornly learnt my lesson the hard way. Believe me when I say it is has been a TOUGH lesson to learn! 


Since then I have been extremely careful about who I allow into my life and I have been extremely watchful about how people treat me as an indicator of which boundaries I should put up. I pay close attention to ACTIONS, which has altered a lot my friendships as well. Best friends had to become friends that I don't hang out with very often anymore. I have prayed and you have given me strength and wisdom. Even when I have questioned you, you have persistently taught me my value. On days when I have been low and discouraged you have reminded me who I am. You have been patient with me in your own way. Thank you. So here's to 2018! Cheers! Maybe I needed to acknowledge this dark cloud to finally see the sunrise behind it.  Many thanks for the Season, because as my nieces like to remind me "Jesus is the reason for the season!" so I will  try my best to be cheerful where I can. Looking forward to all we shall do in the new year.

Yours faithfully,
Maria 






Thursday, 21 December 2017

My Favorite Tweets of 2017


I decided to share some of my favorite tweets this year because I spend a large chuck of my day on social media. These digital platforms which are supposed to bring us together,  provide the odd ( slightly creepy if i may add )  opportunity to be part of a lot of conversations without even uttering a word. People whom I shall probably never meet, and who have no idea who I am, have strangely touched my life in some small way this year.  I have been disappointed, encouraged, inspired and humored(is that a word even?) just by their tweets this year, so it's only fair that I should pay homage to some of them on this blog.  I wish I could share more but then you'd be here for ages and in the internet world a second feels like forever, so here are a few for you to enjoy with me. Here goes...


Number 1 is  Duckie Thot reminding us just how fabulous she is in the wilderness. My lesson from this photo...I am inspired to be my best self as much as possible. 




Number 2 is  @Bodyposipanda_ setting a good example for us on the importance of self care. Currently learning to change my internal negative narrative on body image. 



Number 3 reminded me of how politics just disturbs me. We, regularly,  get conned into believing  'the greater good' narrative but sometimes we need to appreciate the worker bees amongst us, the people who do the work and never ask for recognition. Not all of us need to be charismatic eloquent leaders being interviewed on TV every morning, some of us are fantastic at buckling down and getting the job done. 



Number 4 Amy Tan released a new book! She wrote the book Joy Luck Club which I studied in secondary school for O-Level.  One of the BEST books I have ever read, it changed my life, it basically changed the way I read books, but that's what English literature should do to students.  The book  explores the relationships of  four mothers and four  daughters, culture, immigration, assimilation and much more . I have been a huge fan ever since! I was so happy to hear that she had  written a autobiographical book about her life . Looking forward to reading it. 


Number 5 tweets with photos that make me fall in love with the world.


Number 6 and 7: once again tweets with photos that make me fall in love with Uganda. I have moved around the country  a lot this year, more for the work I do than for leisure. I am hoping 2018 will be slightly..just slightly different. Please God let's throw a mini holiday or three in there please. 




Number 8 and 9: Tweets that made me realize we don't talk about the environment in ways that cause us to take action to preserve it. I find all the information online fascinating and I carry around some internal shame that I have not done much yet  in my adult life to show my commitment to protecting the environment for future generations . 



Number 10 The tweet that partially triggered my internal shame about my lack of zeal to preserve the environment, a photo of Wangari Maathai. Someone who's struggles and persistence I can only appreciate now that I am older. To be a woman, and stand for what she stood up for in that time, she is our heroine. In 2018 I must find some way to show my commitment.  


Number 11 and 12: I would like to be able to illustrate this well someday. Plans to practice in 2018 are underway. #goals 



Number 13: I really enjoyed seeing the tweets on #Inktober, where different illustrators take up the challenge of producing and sharing their work every day during the month of October. There  are so many talented people out there. Such powerful stories depicted through what appear to be simple  illustrations 



Number 14, 15,and 16  are tweets that make me laugh out loud (excuse the cliche). These are only a few because I couldn't be bothered to scroll through the rest of the year, but Twitter is the gift that keeps on giving (another cliche..sorry).  People on twitter have the best humor ever.





Number 17: My relationship with God as per this tweet and how I will continue into 2018





Number 18 and 19:  when you need a little encouragement sometimes twitter is the place to go



Number 20 and 21: the way Twitter can bring up childhood memories...lol Every house had those doilies, my mum used to make her own. As for the writing pad, my mum used to love writing letters so that exact paper pad was a staple in our house. I think I wrote a letter to Oprah on it once, never sent it though... oh well. 




Number 22: This artwork of a Maasai in space. We can dream, can't we!


Number 23: Because anything with Beyonce's picture I just like. Some thing that I learnt from childhood is to always put in the work , yet I have seen quite a few  people get by on just stealing from other people. This year I saw the fruits of  my  labors of  love that I have been working on for  long enough. I am encouraged to keep on persevering. This tweet sums everything up for me. #Lemonade #BeyHive


Number 24 These challenges Ugandans set for themselves.. shaking my head in laughter. May you drive safely this festive season, let's not loose our lives prematurely.

Lastly Number 25, Winnie the Pooh quotes make everything better.



What about you? Any favorite tweets this year? Share & comment below. 












Sunday, 10 December 2017

Burn out in December




I can't believe I am writing about burn out in the month of December. Blogging about something cheerful and festive for the Christmas season is what I should be doing... Right? I am slightly conflicted. If I really wanted to optimize the opportunity, I would be following a detailed content plan, with wonderful holiday themed activities that would inspire you to have your best Christmas ever! Like exclusive tips on where to get the best decorations at a bargain, advice on who you can pay to deliver a perfectly cooked  tasty turkey, roast beef or chicken to feed your picky in-laws on Christmas or Boxing day, also maybe some gift ideas for hubby, boyfriend, Mum, Dad, brother, sister in law etc... You get it right? I should be a walking fuzzy bright ball of infectious happiness, bubbling on about spending precious time with family and friends, and winding down an incredibly fruitful and productive year...  but my body says NOPE!

You can see more of Gemma Correll's work here

Maybe the year has been too productive? I don't know what to say...  I feel like the illustration above. Even though I don't feel like posting my own content around the Christmas spirit, I have to mention that I am enjoying the range of wonderful vlogmas  You Tube videos I have been watching since the start of December,  for example  'This is Essmas' by Sharon Mundia, also Zoella and her boyfriend PointlessBlog, to name a few.While I look forward to loading my internet bundle, clicking play and catching up with my favorite You Tubers in the evening after work and school. I can't say I have the same enthusiasm for the season that they all do right now. It is difficult for me to recall the last time I actually decorated a Christmas tree. Which is sad. I am glad my mother isn't around to see this. She spent so much time during our childhood making Christmas a magical time for us.  A week ago, I decided that this year I would actually buy a Christmas tree, I was supposed to get one this weekend but as the great Awesomely Luvvie once said I am "unable to Can".


“Burnout occurs when your body and mind can no longer keep up with the tasks you demand of them. Don’t try to force yourself to do the impossible. Delegate time for important tasks, but always be sure to leave time for relaxation and reflection.”
Del Suggs,
Truly Leading: Lessons in Leadership
 
This weekend I have been unable to can effectively.

I started feeling low on Friday, and immediately took myself for some tests because I was worried it might be malaria. The results indicated I was fine. I have body aches,  fever chills, and I swear the snot in my nose has a green tinge to it, which is supposed to mean an infection, isn't it? Yet the only unusual item on the lab results was an increase in a certain type of white blood cell.  I was reliably informed that it could mean the start of an infection that shouldn't disrupt my routine because all signs point towards a healthy body.

But here's the thing... it has made me spend an abnormal amount of hours in bed this weekend and important plans had to be cancelled. For the first time this year my body flat out refused to go with the flow. I am greatly surprised because even after a busy week, I am usually out and about on Saturday and Sunday. This week wasn't even jam packed with activity but all my body wanted to do is nap! The only task I managed to achieve was to blow dry my hair and purchase some Lemsip . Even Burn Out can't mess with a natural hair girl's schedule tehehehe. The Lemsip, I hope will ease the body aches and fever shivers. In between naps,  I have been busy with all my favorite introvert activities including catching up on Victoria Series 2. Wrapped up in the safety of my comfy fluffy duvet, I accidentally stumbled across #booktube, which I am slightly ashamed to say has brought me so much delight in the last few hours of Sunday. A whole community of people who vlog about books. Imagine!

As I take my fiftieth guilt free spoonful of blueberry flavored ice cream, while writing the last sentence of this post. I am suddenly filled with a sense of gratitude that days like this can exist. That I can enjoy resting and still find joy and relief in the smallest things, after all even if I can't yet resonate, it is the season.  

 “A happy and productive person is one who understands that his or her job is not the purpose of his or her life. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything that allows you to recharge your batteries away from your typical routine. No leave, no life.”
Del Suggs, Truly Leading: Lessons in Leadership

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Body Image, Weight Gain and the Lure of Cupcakes!



It's that time of the month, which means my 'hunger' pangs accompany me like an unwelcome vexing sidekick. Always there, unable to be pacified by healthy food that does not include well loved junk.

Three zits appeared eight hours ago without warning me in advance of their arrival. And I  feel drained and exhausted this time around despite weeks of faithful conscious healthy eating habits. Not one drop of soda has entered my body...not one! My oily face for reasons unknown to me, looks dry and un-cared for.  Seemly dehydrated...can you imagine!? I drink atleast one liter of water a day..so how!?

Sipping on my comforting burgundy colored hibiscus tea ๐Ÿ˜‰,  I am typing the first draft of this post,  while I patiently wait for the two Panadol-extras  I took fifteen minutes ago to kick in. Google told me that painkillers work by intercepting messages to the brain from the nerve-endings when there's a problem such as an injury, an accident or just regular cramps . Essentially, my simple understanding of the process is that, it allows my brain to be in denial for a few hours so that I can focus on the other priorities in my life. What it can't do is shut down the negative thoughts I have about my body. Self esteem issues that are magnified by these monthly visits from mother nature.

It's one of those day's where I could quite easily get swept up in the dark cloud fueled by my merciless hormones. I have gained weight in the last two years. I can distract attention from my hips and my thighs with some cute fashionable dresses but I can't hide the cheeks on my face. This weekend they helped clarify the definition of chubby for me. A few weeks ago my aunt made a balloon impression to describe my looks. People have cornered me in the lift with worried concern. Love interests have offered to take me to the gym on a daily basis. Last year my brother pointed at my food belly and asked "What is that!?" I quietly fought of the urge to tell him it was a bad reaction to BBQ chicken wings.  Months ago,  I returned home, pleasantly greeted my Dad, he looked me up and down from behind his reading glasses and replied with the following statement, "You're getting fat!".

I really could wallow in my immutable sensitiveness to the way I think  the world views me and my body, but I don't have that kind of time and luckily I stumbled on a video a few hours ago which inspired me to write about this topic. This is the video ( click here) which lead me to Megan Jayne Crabbe's Body Positive Instagram Account and then to a  number of positive body image messages all over the internet terrain.  Wait....Just for minute.... let me divert from the topic a little bit,  I want the same colored  unicorn hair as Megan!  ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ Who am I kidding!? I could never rock such colors with confidence.


Scrolling through Megan's  account, I quickly realized it was so much more different than the ones I usually follow.  For one she allows her body to be seen as it is. No over use of  Filters or photoshop, no special  angles used to deceive her audience either ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. How? (The amount of selfies I have deleted because they show what i really look like...)  The messages on her page about weight, food, eating and self worth are common sense and yet I am fascinated by them. Googling her history I realize she once suffered from an eating disorder and the body positive model may have been part of her treatment.  The 'Body Positivity ' movement was started in 1996 as a model for helping people with eating disorders. But even those without chronic eating disorders are discovering the importance of  such  messages about food. There are actually a number of discussions on it all over the internet (please google...don't take my word for it)






I don't have an eating disorder and I gather I am healthy from my last medical check up, even if I tried unsuccessfully to avoid getting on the weighing scale because I wanted to remain in my self preserving denial. The Nurse was persistent and I suspect she added a few extra kilograms to the weight section of my medical file either to spite or inspire me. You decide ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…. Two years ago, it was a different story, I was thinner, I looked like a girl not a woman, stress, grief, and other negative factors were taking their toll on me. My metabolism also had my back, whatever junk I threw in myself, it made it work. During that time, someone had the decency to have a real conversation with me about my self confidence. They helped me realize on some level that I  needed to live my life. And so I started living my life....and of course I have enjoyed my food since then.... and like I said earlier my cheeks started to show it, also some of my favorite dresses now don't fit anymore. I have been eating as I please, so it is inevitable that my under appreciated metabolism finally caught up with me. I can no longer consume what my eyes find appealing, I must now consume more of what my body needs. But you know I really would not have been that bothered about it had people not started making comments. I guess I am reluctantly grateful for the mini intervention because it's about time I become mature about it. Self confidence and self love also involve making good nutritious choices for meals.



I see how the messages we tell each other as well as the messages we consume through traditional and non traditional media can easily be internalized and lead to unhealthy eating habits on both ends of the spectrum. This is not a blame game by the way, I am solely responsible for this unflattering weight gain. To add to my internal confusion, last week I reduced my use of lifts and decided to use the stairs more often. One day while enthusiastically climbing up to my destination, I passed someone moving in the opposite direction who murmured under their breath with some obvious side eye, 'show off!' I started to  apologetically explain to them that I was trying to improve my overall fitness. They replied to my comment with sarcasm ' Yeah, right...๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜’" . This person is  physically a lot heavier than me, and probably ( I assume) struggling with their own personal weight issues. Which made me feel stupid... was I losing weight for other people? Why did I feel the need to explain myself? ๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜‘๐Ÿ˜‘
"these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips."
Lucille Clifton

I have decided to continue focusing on physical fitness and changing my eating choices rather than losing the weight. An exercise regime is in place, and discipline has been added to my diet. It is happening in phases so as not to cause a fully fledged internal rebellion. Lots of vegetables and fruits, No rice, reduced amounts of sugar intake...less cupcakes...that kind of thing.... Do you think I should buy myself a weighing scale? This whole body positive thing has changed my perspective, whether for good or bad I shall write my thoughts again in the future when I have results to share, but for now this is how I am choosing to tackle it .







Disclaimer: I am not part of any 'body positivity'  groups and  I am not an expert on movement either 



Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Three Times I learnt Something About People At Church.


This is not Christ The King, its just a lovely picture from pexels.com  

I started going for lunch time mass at Christ The King, a while back when I was a bit troubled. I could not get my mind to settle. I would describe my mind at that time as Monday morning traffic chaos in Kampala just before the traffic policeman/woman calmly arrives to start their shift.

So I took myself to the one place my mother taught me to go. Church. I had hoped I’d have a better chance of finding Him in his house rather than in mine. I wanted God to be a good traffic police man and  set everything back in order. I wanted him to arrive on his police motorcycle with the orange light rotating and flashing,  whistle in mouth, clip board under  the arm, black boots polished, white uniform freshly ironed,  ready to magically unlock all the confounded cars and taxis in my mind stuck in grid lock.

Church  helped.  The familiar pattern of mass helped still my mind, so much so that I somehow rekindled one of my ‘bad’ habits.  From a young age I have always loved the idea of mass, the ritual of the movements, the rhythm and repetition in the priest’s voice and the congregation's, the predictable silences, the familiar hymns… I could go on…but for now let me stick to my ‘bad’habit.  When I get distracted from my prayer, I love watching other people pray. There is so much you can learn about a person just by looking at how they interact with God. I actually think that people are at their most vulnerable in church, because church has totally different social cues. For one you enter silently and sit, no need to greet your neighbor, no need to introduce  yourself, no need to tell people who you are. After all you are here to talk to God, and he already knows who you are.

So this habit of studying people in church, resurfaced during lunch time mass. And since my mother was no longer around to nudge my shoulder, or gently bow my head in prayer when my mind faulted, I settled back into my habit of studying people as they arrived, took  their seats, and knelt to begin their private internal conversation with God. (I know...I know..it's a terrible habit which  all story tellers need ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

Some really interesting occurrences happened since the first time I attended. Today I have decided to share just three on this blog. Three that to this day have remained in my mind.

THE FIRST STORY: So this didn't happened in church, but it certainly surprised me. One time I stepped out  of office to get a boda boda to church. I waved down one, and asked him the price to Christ The King. He seemed vague about it, so I assertively told him ‘ 1000ugx, that all I have!’. He didn’t quarrel,  I hopped on, and we  whizzed off to church. When we arrived,  he parked his boda boda, I proceeded to pay him and to my surprise he refused to take  the money. He took off his helmet and calmly walked off into the church for mass. And that was my first and last free boda boda ride to church. ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

THE SECOND STORY:  I was late, it was lent season so the inside of the church was packed.  I spread out my scarf and  sat on the circular steps that surround the entrance to the church.  As we got busy saying the apostles creed. A bare footed women in  dirty clothes approached the church. she was lamenting and crying to herself,  and to anyone who would listen. She had a stack of tattered leaflets with her and she was trying to give them to people but they would twist their faces and move out of her way. You know the bronze statue of Jesus with the big feet outside of Christ the King?  She stopped before it and knelt down. I swear she prayed straight from her heart with so much humility. I could feel it, remember I told you I  have experience in watching people at church. I can tell who’s authentic. At one point she got up and  flipped though her leaflets and picked out the best  ones she could find, the glossy ones with the least amount of dampness from her tears. Then she lay them at Jesus’s feet. She gave her offering.  Her best offering.  Remember that story in the bible the one with the sick women who just knew if she touched Jesus , she’d be healed.  What about that story when Jesus mentioned the greatness  of the poor lady's offering in the temple verses the rich man? This reminded me of that. Because as she prayed she didn’t seem so tortured by her personal demons anymore. Then after five minutes, she got up and carried on walking, returning right back to the state she entered our presence in,  lamenting and handing leaflets to strangers. Never saw her again. But I’d like to naively think she has many regular conversations with Jesus.

THE THIRD STORY: It was another lent season, I was sat outside on the steps as usually. I wasn’t alone there were other late comers like me.  Around Fifteen minutes into mass, as they were reading the second reading . We see a short thin woman  hobbling closer to us trying to reach the steps at the entrance of the church. She can barely move her feet because of  the unusual heavy bundle on her back and the aged handbag and  blue & green mukeka in her hands. the bundle is wrapped in a lesu with a common picture of the virgin Mary on it. When she reaches the steps , she balances herself,  lays out the mukeka, places down her bag, then  slowly and cautiously manages to put her bundle down. The bundle starts to move and unravel itself. It's boy, a boy with a head that is too big for it's body. The size of his head informs us that some special operation must be done to fix it. We all know in Uganda that  will cost money, and from the looks of the lady she doesn't have much to spare. So where did she turn to? Church. God's house.  The lady doesn’t make any eye contact with anyone, she knows we are all staring at her, and the boy . Despite all this,  she joins in the prayers with us, because I am sure she is used to our reaction by now, we can’t be the first group of people to stare, possibly judge and then pity them.  When mass is down she asks for no help, puts her son on her back, balances her bag and mukeka, and leaves as she came. For three days , everyone who sits outside with me at mass, we watch her come and say her prayers and leave. Then one day when it is time for the offertory, every single one of us takes our offertory and places it on the mukeka next to her. She is so shocked that we see her cry silently throughout the rest of mass. Like I said earlier, during mass the social cues are different. In the street I mind my own business, but in church this women could have fitted quite comfortably into anyone of Jesus’ parables, so at mass she becomes our business.  After Easter, I never see her or her son at mass again. I don’t think we helped her much, in fact I think her faith and determination to get to mass everyday with her son actually helped us. It helped me put a lot into perspective.  I think bronze Jesus with the big feet sent her to teach us something. My mind went very still that  day. Things were crisp and clear like that first breath of fresh air during an early morning walk.

We become different creatures on the way to God’s house and also while we are in it.So maybe God didn’t arrive in a motorcycle, lights flashing, whistle ready to blow. He arrived the way he does. Unexpectedly. And I got the message.


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Be Still.




Today I was nearly swallowed up by all my worries

Am I helping or am enabling this family member?

How do you help someone, when they don't think they need help?

When do I help? and when do I step back?

Will I achieve what I have been tasked with  this week?

Did that person really try to throw me under the bus?


Should I take another Panadol to help this anxiety headache?

Did I save enough money in the month of October?

Have I packed all that I need for this trip?

Did St-Micheal hear my prayer about my father?

Should  I text this family member and tell them how I really feel about their behavior or should I let sleeping dogs lie?

Am I on track? 

Am I making the  right decisions for my future?

What would my mother say?

Bla....Bla....Bla...Bla

The questions continued, till I came across this You tube video with T.D Jakes- "Leave it Alone!". As if God was hearing me thinking out loud in my head. Wondering how I would fix all these things myself.  I listened and I heard the message loud and clear.  I took three deep breaths  until I could hear the quiet of the Sunday afternoon world around me.  I said alone in my room to God 'I need some help.' I said again, ' I need help with all of this.'. So Simple.

So I guess I can now go about being still.... while watching my You Tube videos ๐Ÿ˜‰

Monday, 30 October 2017

Maybe Your Dreams Aren't Big Enough...




Yes that's a  multi colored mammoth charging through my bedroom


Prayer is a regular part of my routine. It's one my favourite things to do at the very beginning of my day  and also just before bedtime.  I feel that prayer is a valuable peaceful  and reliable activity for me. It is also an extremely private one...like how Moses goes up into the mountains kind of private. I particularly love the safety,  the repetition and the rhythm. I don't speak in tongues, the holy spirit does not overcome me, it is always a subtle force of a whisper. I am  no expert on this topic, I just like order, I prefer to flip through my prayer book or seek inspiration from the bible. If I have to discuss something, then I honestly tell God in my own ordinary words.
"Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts." ~ Mother Theresa

Now why are we talking about prayers when in the picture above,  a talking mammoth is about to charge through my bedroom? You see, I think because I like order and repetition, I may be hiding behind my prayers.  I've  gotten so used to  my routine that I have been seeing in tunnel vision. There is some ignorance in my prayers. As if I  have forgotten how awesome this world is.  Hence the imaginary mammoth charging through.  You see as mentioned in the last blog post, I've been watching a lot of You Tube and one of the things  I really enjoy is a channel called PBS Eons, which has these short digestible mini informational videos on evolution . And yes I  know evolution and Christianity aren't meant to go together, but just bear with me...

So from these documentaries,  I learnt  that the last mammoth died 4000 years ago, or 10,000 years ago depending on which one you watch. There is a term used for a species that scientists thought went extinct  eons ago yet their fossils show up in a different time period, it's called the  Lazarus- effect ( I kid you not, the person who gave it this name must know they would make some Christians angry, right?)

Nature is amazing. Even the people who study  life and nature that is extinct are amazing!

Did you know there were once woolly rhinos too? Everyone talks about the mammoths, but there were rhinos as well... yap google it ๐Ÿ˜Ž It lived during the Pleistocene epoch (whatever that means...). And was roughly the same size and weight as the modern white rhino today ( source)
from earth touch news network ...


As I learn more,  my random discussions during prayer change. The world is complex. We used to be encouraged to learn about these things in primary and secondary school, once I started university and chose my career path, learning about nature just dropped off my radar. After watching these videos, at times my prayers seem minuscule and limited  in the grand scheme of things. Once in while I need to thank God for the bigger picture.  And when I come to God with doubt in my heart, maybe it's because I have forgotten the awe that is represented in nature and life. Maybe I need to find a way to regularly remind myself. God . Is. Great.
  
Did you know there is a plant called 'Devil's Fingers'? Look at the picture below. Disgusting, right? Trust me when I say you need to go to You Tube and search for a video of  this thing hatching...yes it hatches ๐Ÿ˜จ๐Ÿ˜จ.  I predict that you will first cringe and cover your mouth as if you can taste it, and then you will press the re-play button five more times in disbelief, cause nature is just fascinating like that!

"Devil's Fingers" from www.littlethings.com
Have plants been secretly watching us all this time and we just don't know it? How do they know the colour of blood and flesh? What about the smell? People say 'Devils Finger' smell like putrid flesh... how did it figure out the smell?

In a forest some where...
Nature is smart..intelligent..jaw dropping....[you fill in your choice of words here] ...

The world is huge and now we are adding our own creations and innovations to the mixture. I only picked a few things to write about here but there is much....much...much more. 

Nature makes  me want to assess my prayers. Nature is constantly outperforming us without even trying too hard. Just think of the number of illnesses we are still fighting to find cures for, researchers look for inspiration from nature. Which brings me back to my imaginary mammoth, and the title of this blog and my prayers...



Need I remind you these plants know what rotting flesh smells like!!!! And you, what are you doing with your life?
 
The sad realization  that comes to mind when watching videos about the history of the world, is that this is all temporary. I  don't  know who said it but change is the one thing you can guarantee. The Sahara didn't start of as a desert. We human beings, are a species that is just passing through. Like all the rest that came before us. So what will our legacy be? Who will dig our fossils up? What will they say of us? I read somewhere yesterday that Mars probably had life on it before,  but we know nothing of what that life actually entailed yet. Imagine how many civilizations we know absolutely nothing about. 






 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Taking Stock - September 2017







Making: I am painting now, I bought my own set of water colors along with some brushes, some pencils, some sharpies and two sketch books. I try to paint in the weekdays after work. I am attempting to build my skills for the drawing pad that I want to eventually start using regularly (Right now it only gets pulled out when I am feeling brave๐Ÿ˜ฃ ). There is something very liberating about creating without restriction, and also creating for nobody in particular but yourself. It is all thanks to @paintklanight for helping me pick up the brush. I attended two of their events and can't wait for the next one. Notice that I have not called myself an artist. There are real professional artists out there. I am not an artist, I simply paint. 


Drinking: Ummm....I have started drinking Apple Cider Vinegar in water again. I take a bottle to work every other day...750ml to be exact. I mix two table spoons in my bottle of water. My stomach is a very happy place right now ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Reading: I just finished reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi...wow! Loved this book๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–. It follows the linage of two sisters from the days of slavery to the present moment. Took me a while to finish with all the other things I had to get done but it was totally worth it. It's a must read, go out and get it if you can.

Playing: Played some google art games the other day. I am considering getting my own set of board games.

Wishing:I usually leave this section blank but this month I am pining for a whole bunch of things, too sensitive to put in this blog post. ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Enjoying: Bikozulu's two blog posts Njeri and Guy. I can't wait for his book.

Writing: The daily free writing exercise is quite fun; when I can force myself to actually  sit and do it. I pick the strongest sentence from it and afterwards see if I can write some fiction, but I need to stick to a story line for a little longer than 30 minutes.

Loving: You Tubers, I discover new ones every week. Now I don't even bother to watch TV anymore. I just catch up with their daily vlogs. You can even get your exercise routine from You Tube....yoga, Pilates, dance...it's all there!

Eating: Popcorn...I mean who doesn't love popcorn? Also..why is it when you start eating popcorn it's impossible to stop? You have to get to the very last one.๐Ÿ˜…

Needing: The furry square pillows in Mr Price. I might as well have a pillow spree, you only live once..right? Well as much of  a spree as possible given the goals I must achieve this year.

Wearing: Lipstick. It's a staple now that I have figured out how to use lip liner ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿ’ƒ God help me if I get my hands on a good highlighter or bronzer....๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

Knowing: I think I say the same thing every taking stock, but prayer and God-time is important.

Thinking:  About Louise L Hay's death. She was the author of the  first self help book I ever bought. I know we are not supposed to admit to buying self help books, but I do buy them because adulting is tough. Took me more than a decade to understand what she was trying to say ๐Ÿ˜‚. I needed some life experience I guess. Very simple and subtle points but very hard to master. RIP Louise L Hay, you certainly won't be forgotten. Those affirmations require work buts it's good homework to have.

Giggling Over: The first paragraph of Luvvie Ajayi's new book,  I'm Judging You -The Do Better Manual 


From the Louise hay Website


Comment below, What does the month of September hold for you?

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A Creative Writing Jump Start- Writivism Festival 2017



From now until the end of the year, I am supposed to spend 10 minutes free writing every day, so in true-aspiring-writer-fashion, I have been avoiding my notebook and pen this week. I attended a writing workshop last Sunday, it was part of the Writivism Festival. At 10.00am, I arrived on time for the workshop in my fave grey marble print dress and new L.A Girl matte pigment  lip gloss 'Black Current' with daunting and catastrophic imagined expectations in mind. The night before I had dreamt about all the worst possible scenarios, so I was hoping both the dress & lip gloss would help my confidence, because the one fear most writers have is reading their work in front of other people (people who are very talented). I was frightened that I might have to read my rejected story out loud, since they had asked me to bring a print out. So the dress and lip gloss were meant to be my Armour, but thank God I never had to read my story.

 Any who....I discovered that I actually have a lot going on in my mind and this free writing exercise  during the workshop allowed me to sit and spew out all the unnecessary clutter, no longer restricted by grammar. Free writing is when you write down whatever is on your mind without editing yourself. You just write and write and write, within your specified time limit. Sitting in a room surrounded by fellow writers of different nationalities and cultures,  I wrote possibly 150 to 200 words uncensored, real (and maybe a bit raw)in just 10 minutes. We were tasked to write about our names by the facilitator from Short Story Day AfricaEfemia Chela. And when she shouted "Time's up! Pens down." you can just imagine the struggle that took place between us the writers, our hands and the pens. We had all enjoyed our freedom without our internal editors breathing down our backs  and were reluctant to give it away once again.

The Writivism festival took place at The Square this year, which is most definitely an interesting building. I can describe it in four words greyish, blackish bare and huge. You can't deny the fact that the place was constructed for creatives. It's a structure located in the industrial area of Kampala that one can mold into what they need for the time they are there. The festival was dynamic as always.  Each time I attend I leave with my renewed enthusiasm for African writers. I attended the #MEIREAD session hosted by the Ugandan publishing house  Sooo Many Stories and listened to a lively discussion on the book Black Ass with author A. Igoni Barret,  now I MUST get that book!  I am so happy that the festival gives us access to books that we might not find in our usual book shops; not only access to the books but a chance to meet the authors and understand their creative process. It makes my reading  experience so personal, a purchase for me becomes an investment in the future of African literature. Our grandchildren will be overwhelmed by the choices, I am elated about that.  I bought  some books I am looking forward to devouring ๐Ÿ˜‚ Shout out to Turn the Page and the Writivism Crew for  ensuring they were available. I would have bought more but many of the books that were launched were sold out by the time I got there...

Yes, this photo was taken at night so I used a flash..

                       
Can we also talk about the Salooni exhibition by Darlyne Komukama? It made me proud to be female and Ugandan. Dare I say.... I think our ancestors would be proud of these amazing photos? I do believe they REALLY would be. 


from the Writivism website


One thing I was looking forward too was the creative rush, imagine a sugar rush but substitute sugar for creative energy . The energy that makes us paint, animate, design, photograph, even write... is it the same as the muse? Although it doesn't feel like the muse. It feels more like jump starting your internal creative vehicle, because each person will still has to go away and do the work. The jump start just gives us the visionary spark of electric energy. There is something about being around like-minded people that makes your mind dig deeper for the story, and hopefully helps you produce your next best work if you remain committed and intensely focused. So I highly recommend festivals, workshops or writing retreats cause we all need that creative push every now and then, before we lock ourselves away in solitary confinement to passionately labour away on the next great hit.

This post was initially a free writing exercise but 
I have edited out around 100 words so I could post it. ๐Ÿ˜ค

In  the comments below, tell me, have you tried free Writing? How do you get your creative jumpstart? Have you bought any good books lately?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How to Deal with the Social Butterfly Who's Secretly a Bully...



They get along with everyone except you, and you just can't figure out why...They are often cold and manipulative when interacting with you, and yet they are the complete opposite with everyone else. Other people describe them as warm, caring, fun  and bubbly but for some reason you can't  quite pin point how you are experiencing someone else altogether...

First before we go any further let's acknowledge what bullying is and that there are different types of bullying.  Here's a definition of bullying from Google, 'The use of superior strength or influence to intimidate, typically to force him or her to do what you want.' And here is another definition of bullying from Wikipedia, 'The use of force, threat or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others.'  Then just to make the discussion more interesting, there are four main types of bullying which I shall list below, however I am guessing if you were studying this topic you would probably find it broken down further.


  • Physical Bullying:includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing, or damaging property.
  • Social/ Emotional Bullying: also called "relational bullying", includes behavioral actions designed to harm a child’s reputation or cause humiliation, like lying and spreading rumors, playing mean jokes to embarrass or humiliate , mimicking the person in a mean way, encouraging social exclusion of a person, etc.
  • Verbal Bullying: includes name-calling, insults, teasing, intimidation or verbal abuse.
  • Cyber Bullying: includes taunting or humiliation through social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or the Internet, cruel websites targeting specific youth, humiliating others while playing online games, verbal or emotional bullying through chat rooms, 


For this blog post I am personally writing from my experiences as an adult. I feel like it is a necessary topic to discuss. In the same way we can be victims, we can unknowingly  participate in bullying and not know the long lasting effects on the individual. I have never personally experienced physical or cyber bullying so the steps I am providing would probably not be useful in those situations. I am also not an expert,  I  am writing based on the coping strategies that helped me get through some challenging moments so please bare that in mind. Here are my ten tips for coping with bullies:


  1. TAKE A STEP BACK~ Usually when we are in the midst of getting bullied, we get lost in the overwhelming emotions of feeling inadequate and inferior. Take a deep breath...take a mental step back and see the situation for what it is. Is there really a problem or is someone trying to convince you that you are a problem? 
  2. STAY CALM๐Ÿ˜ถ~ Don't let your emotions get the best of you. This is the best advice my father has given me. Sometimes this person will use triggers, they will find ways to frustrate you and humiliate you in front of others. It's important to learn to remain calm and as mentioned in step one, take a step back and start seeing the situation for what it is. 
  3. 'ALL ATTACK IS A CALL FOR HELP' ๐Ÿ’ฃ-~I think this comes from a A Course in Miracles. Hurt people hurt other people. In this day and age of social media, we have become experts at editing our life into what we want people to see and know about us. Unfortunately this means that some people never feel safe enough to admit they are hurting or they need help. It isn't your responsibility to help the bully but you do need to know that their behavior is a refection of who they are and not who you are. They will try to convince you, that you are the problem, stick to steps one and two. Remember this isn't about you...this is about their inability to cope in healthy ways with situations they do not like. After all the bully is a human being. 
  4. PRAY๐Ÿ™‡~ meditate, pray, find your quiet amongst all the chaos. It will help you think through steps 1,2,and 3 Whatever works for you. Consulting with God helps me in my daily life
  5. TALK TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST~Find a confidant who is not emotionally attached to  the situation and discuss it with them. Sometimes this will help you see everything from a fresh perspective and they may have advice to help you cope better
  6. DOCUMENT WHAT HAPPENS ~ Write it all down, write everything that happens, so you don't feel like you are going crazy. Social/relational bullying can be very subtle and the victim may often feel like thy are overreacting. Write it all down. It may help you assess whether you really are being bullied 
  7. DEVELOP A STRATEGY IF YOU NEED ONE ~ sometimes ignoring the behavior helps, because it shows the bully that you will not stoop to that level. Sometimes confronting the bully in an assertive face to face discussion helps, because strangely enough some bullies are afraid of confrontation, because weirdly enough they are victims too.๐Ÿ˜œ Either way you need to assess the situation, do some research , seek professional help if possible and decide what is best for you  ( I have used the word 'situation' toooo much in this blog post ๐Ÿ˜‚)
  8. DON'T LOOSE FOCUS ๐Ÿ’ช ~ This is what the bully wants you to do, loose focus. Forget your purpose, dull your shine. They need to feel better and they think that will happen if they come for you. Make a list of all the things you need to achieve if you have too...re-focus and get your tasks done. Don't waste time focusing on the bully. Remember to find small things that bring you joy, like reading a book, meeting up with friends, watching your favorite series etc. Your  life is bigger than this moment. 
  9. HEAL & FORGIVE ๐Ÿ˜‡~ Bullying can leave a person with a lot of unhealthy side effects,  for example depression, anxiety, panic attacks, isolation, headaches etc... It can often feel embarrassing to admit that someone has had such an effect on you. Seek professional help if you need too. Find time within your life to heal and forgive, so that you can move on. 
  10. SELF- EVALUATE ~You might be a bully too, or you may participate in bullying behaviors towards others. Take the time to know yourself and the people around you, make an effort to stop bullying behaviors in your circles. 


“You should be nicer to him,' a schoolmate had once said to me of some awfully ill-favored boy. 'He has no friends.' This, I realized with a pang of pity that I can still remember, was only true as long as everybody agreed to it.” 




Comment below with your coping strategies, I would love to read them.